08/17/2016  |  Inside Scoop on Watching the Iron Hill Twilight Race Series

Category: Uncategorized  |  Posted by: thetowndish  |  Add Comment

News flash! This year, cycling fans will witness the USA CRITS championship series finals when the Iron Hill Twilight Race Series speeds through downtown West Chester on Saturday, August 20. Plan to be there, and check out our insider tips for getting the most out of your day.

“We couldn’t be more excited about hosting the championships for USA CRITS,” said Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce President Mark Yoder. “We usually see 100–110 men and 40–50 women, all high-caliber riders; we expect to see even more great racers this year.”

Race day is a family day, with tons of activities for kids of all ages. The streets of downtown West Chester close at noon, and the free Community Zones open at 3 p.m.:

  • Kid’s Zone—The Wells Fargo Bank parking lot on East Gay Street between The Classic Diner and Teca will be packed with family fun! You’ll find an inflatable obstacle course, kid-centric vendors, Hawaiian shaved ice and more. Winners of the West Chester Dental Arts Kids’ Race will cross the finish line there and grab their medals, too.
  • Benchmark Community Festival—There’s something for everyone on High Street between Gay and Market streets! Stop by this showcase for local businesses that provide support for the race. You’ll enjoy info and offerings from health and fitness providers, home improvement vendors, service providers, food & treats and so much more.
  • Market Street Block Party—Not to be outdone, the businesses on Market Street between Church and Darlington streets are throwing their annual shindig in honor of the race! This is another family-friendly good time featuring face painting, the chance to chalk up the street with your artistic prowess, live music and great food.

Now that you’ve had some fun it’s time to get set for the races. Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant President Kevin Finn is a race-day veteran because Iron Hill has been the title sponsor from the start, working closely with the Chamber, which mounts the day-long event. Here are his top race day tips:

  • Start the day by watching future pro cyclers at the West Chester Dental Arts Kids’ Race starting at 3:30 p.m. Kids ages 3–10 will pedal for glory and leave with a medal and goodie bag. The race ends at the Kid’s Zone, a perfect place to cool off with shaved ice.
  • Then, head over to the super-competitive Tolsdorf Twilight Trike Challenge for a 4:30 p.m. start. Teams of five adults furiously pedal tricycles with one goal in mind: to win VIP passes to the Crit Club for a delicious buffet, Iron Hill’s specially brewed Race Day Radler and—of course—bragging rights and the coveted trophy.
  • Stroll through the Benchmark Community Festival and the Market Street Block Party while waiting for the Rothman Institute Amateur Men’s Criterium that starts at 5:45 p.m. This race pits top local cyclists against the challenging downtown course. Start staking out your spot for breathtaking views of racers speeding by. Those in the know hit:
    • The Beer Garden on High Street right by the start/finish line. This is a great spot to enjoy a beer and get the full scoop on what’s going on during the race from the announcer stationed across the street.
    • The outdoor areas right outside Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, also right by the start/finish line. Beer will be flowing there, too!
    • Turn one at Church and Gay streets, a “technical” corner and an interesting place to watch the race.
    • Turn three at Market and Matlack streets, another challenging corner sure to delight race enthusiasts.
  • Stay put for the Brumbaugh Wealth Management Pro Women’s Criterium Championship Series Final at 6:45 p.m. and be amazed by top women racers in this key USA Cycling race.
  • Hunker down for the Iron Hill Twilight Criterium Pro Men’s Championship Final at 8 p.m. The streets will explode with top national bike pros racing to the finish to claim the championship.

It’s a long, exciting day, so we recommend you come prepared to go the distance:

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing to beat the heat.
  • Consider sneakers or walking shoes to help you navigate the crowds as you walk around West Chester.
  • Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated.
  • Stop in to food vendors and restaurants to grab bites throughout the day.

“It’s been our pleasure and honor to be the title sponsor of this race,” Kevin added. “But we couldn’t do it without all the other sponsors and volunteers, and of course, Mark and the Chamber, who present this event.”

A few final thoughts from Mark: “We appreciate all our sponsors, but a special nod this year to Brumbaugh Wealth Management, which stepped up to make sure the women’s purse matched the men’s. For the first time at the Iron Hill Twilight Race Series—one of the few times in pro racing—the winners of both the men’s and the women’s finals will receive $10,000.”

“We’re also still looking for more trike teams; that race benefits Fame Fire Company No. 3,” he noted. “Last, but certainly not least, we are in need of many more volunteers.”

Don’t miss what’s shaping up to be a history-making event in downtown West Chester on August 20!

With 12 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

Photos: Brian Penn Photography

08/05/2016  |  The ABCs of Craft Brewing

Category: Uncategorized  |  Posted by: thetowndish  |  Add Comment

We’re craft brewers, and we’re darn proud to say it. Every day we work for you, our thirsty Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant customer, by hand-creating fresh, delicious beer.

But what does it mean to be a craft brewer?

“As craft brewers, we use the best ingredients available to us—every time,” said Iron Hill Media Head Brewer Andrew Johnston. “We carefully select our sources for barley, hops, yeast and water because every single thing we put into the process will impact the final product. We’re on the lookout for farmers and maltsters who know what they’re doing to create malted barley to produce the right flavors. We also search far and wide to get the best hops with the right alpha acids, aroma and flavor compounds.”

Andrew says it takes a good 7–10 years to get the hop shoot to where it’s actually being used by a mass amount of craft brewers. This often becomes a partnership: hop growers will ask brewers to sample and make beers with their hops to see if they produce the right aroma and flavor; if not, they scrap the hops and start over.

At Iron Hill, we’re just as serious about our recipes as we are our ingredients. Naturally there’s plenty of research involved … and by research we mean visiting other breweries, having a beer and talking shop. There’s a camaraderie among craft brewers, a sharing of information and insight rarely found in other industries.

“Inspiration also comes from food,” Andrew noted. “As a brewer, sometimes you eat something and a spice hits you and you think, ‘I wonder what I could do with that?’—and an idea for a new recipe is born.”

Filled with inspiration, we head to the brewery at our respective Iron Hill locations and get to work.

We take all the raw ingredients and weigh them.

We mill the grain to crack it open to the right size—not powdery like flour, or it will turn to mush, and not to the other extreme, or we won’t get the right starches. We store cracked grain in the grist hopper.

We head to the brewery and weigh the rest.

That includes hops, brewing salts, gypsum, water and whatever else is needed that day. It’s worth noting the type of brewing salts makes a huge difference. We use calcium chloride for lagers, for example, to give them their delicate, crisp and clear character. Gypsum hardens the water to bring out hop bitterness, flavor and aroma for big IPAs.

We start the mash process.

Our grist auger pulls the cracked grain up to the mash tun where we rehydrate it to kick the enzymatic process into gear. Those enzymes go to town to turn the grain into sugars that will feed the yeast. This process—where we basically take a giant shovel and stir what looks like a big pot of oatmeal—takes about 30 minutes. Then it rests for roughly an hour.

We begin recirculation.

Here we use a naturally occurring filter bed—husks!—to pull liquid from the bottom of the mash tun and place it back on top. It filters down and clarifies the wort. We do this until the sugary wort clears.

We move the wort from the mash tun to the kettle.

There it gets sparged for about 90 minutes. Hot water is gently sprinkled over the grain and slowly seeps through it to grab those extra sugars. Then, we start the boiling process to sanitize the wort and remove naturally occurring microscopic bacteria that will cause the beer to sour if not banished. Boiling also concentrates those important sugars, too. Once we get to a good, vigorous boil we’ll add hops, which provide the bitterness to balance the sugar’s sweetness. Depending on the type of beer we’re brewing, we’ll continue to add hops for flavor; we’ll definitely add them at the end for aroma.

We transfer the wort to the heat exchanger.

This is where we cool the wort; our heat exchanger works like a car radiator. The wort runs one way, and cold water and food-grade cooling glycol run the other way. As this happens the water heats up from the hot wort and the wort cools down. We recapture that hot water to clean the brewery, and the glycol is in a closed loop so it goes back to a reservoir to cool down to serve our wort another day.

We flow the cooled wort into the fermenter.

At this point, we’ll pitch in yeast to ensure a healthy fermentation. We see fermentation at work within about 24 hours: the yeast starts turning sugar into alcohol, CO2 and flavor components.

We clean.

Seriously. Once fermentation starts, we spend the rest of the day cleaning and sanitizing the brewery. The spoils for going from brewer to janitor? An Iron Hill beer and meal.

We watch and wait.

It takes up to six weeks (sometimes more!), depending on the beer, to ferment. Our House Beer White Iron Wit takes about two weeks; ales two to four weeks; lagers four to six weeks; and our most awarded beer, Russian Imperial Stout, up to six weeks. When we’re brewing beers with specific flavor notes, like our Overload Stout, we use the end of fermentation time to add ingredients like cocoa nibs, vanilla beans and coffee beans. This is also when we dry hop select beers.

We condition the beer.

When fermentation ends, we cold condition by bringing it almost to a freezing point. This locks in flavors and drops out a lot of the yeast. The process takes a few days and is a very important step to get the great taste Iron Hill delivers.

We filter the final product.

Delicious beer is almost ready for you! We filter it into brite tanks that can hold up to 300+ gallons. Here it merges with a carbon dioxide stone and in about 12 hours it’s settled and ready to go. At Iron Hill, beer goes from the brite tank to the beer pump to the tap. It’s fast to the bar, super fresh, perfectly carbonated and ready to enjoy.

We bottle and can.

When beer is being targeted for bottles, we filter it into the brite tank and blend in yeast and sugar for bottle conditioning. That goes into kegs; bottles are filled from individual kegs to ensure quality. We cage and cork them, and within about two weeks the yeast and sugar create the CO2 that soaks back into the beer. When the final destination is cans, we call on our friends at River City Cannery, who show up and put our finished and carbonated beer into cans. Perfect!

“One more thing I want to point out: the biggest thing people don’t understand about craft beer is that it’s hands on—not a flick of a switch or the push of a button,” Andrew emphasized. “At Iron Hill, there’s one or two people keeping an eye on our beer at all times. We make sure everything is going as expected so the beer you drink is brewed properly and correctly every time.”

“We’re proud to be craft brewers,” he continued. “It means pushing the limits to make something a little bit better or to take all the R&D we do and make it our own. We always want to find that new, fun and inventive product so our customers say ‘wow.’”

Come visit us and sample what our brewers have hand-crafted for you!

With 11 locations—and number 12 on the way—in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

 

07/25/2016  |  Yes, You Can Drink Dark Beer in the Summer

Category: Uncategorized  |  Posted by: thetowndish  |  Add Comment

When it comes to beer, we know you like what you like—and that you’re also willing to experiment. That’s why at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, we serve up an ever-changing selection of creative releases on tap in addition to our stellar house beer lineup. Our customers demand it!

Although we bust out our share of lighter summer favorites, you’ll still find a few dark beers on the menu to satisfy your thirst for something malty, roasty and complex.

What’s the mojo behind dark beers? We picked Voorhees Senior Head Brewer Brian Finn’s brain for the delicious details and asked him to geek out a bit about what goes into darker selections.

“All beers are made up of about 80–85 percent pale colored malt, so it’s the other 15 percent-ish that colors the beer,” Brian started. “The pale malt provides the sugar, which is converted to alcohol. The darker malts are less fermentable and don’t contribute to the alcohol content—but they really contribute to the beer’s color, body and taste.”

Brian agrees there’s definitely a place on the menu for the handful of dark beers we brew in the summer. Our award-winning Pig Iron Porter is a house beer and a great example of everything that’s amazing about dark beer. It’s the whole package: a 5.4% ABV classic porter that shows off roasted malts and chocolate notes that are well balanced with just a hint of bitterness.

“Believe it or not, dark beer is a great entry beer for those just getting into different styles because of the sweet and smoky notes,” Brian added. “And we’ve found that a lot of our guests, both men and women, like darker beers because of the chocolate notes.”

You’ll spy some of these darker beers on our summer menus, and they just might surprise you:

  • Overload Stout: This award-winning imperial stout is aged on rich chocolate nibs and locally roasted coffee. It’s complex, with tastes of vanilla, chocolate and earthy coffee. 8.5% ABV.
  • Black IPA: You can have your pronounced bitterness and your full malt flavor, too. This award winner offers up substantial hop flavors and aromas with a touch of roast. 7.0% ABV.
  • Arnold Schwarzenbier: We call this German black beer the governor of Schwarzbiers, a style that mysteriously offers a lighter, lager finish. You’ll get the touch of roast balanced by a nice bitterness. 4.5% ABV.
  • Imperial Coffee Porter: A full-bodied riff on our Pig Iron Porter, this is bold because it’s brewed with 35 pounds of Mexican and Monaco beans from La Colombe Coffee in Philadelphia. 8.5% ABV.
  • Roggenbier: A traditional German dark rye bringing big fruit on the nose thanks to Bavarian ale yeast. Notice hints of unsweetened chocolate plus caramel from the specialty malts and a touch of spiciness from the rye in this award winner. 6.4% ABV.
  • Abbey Dubbel: Not your traditional dark beer, but its deep mahogany color puts this award winner into the mix. It’s brewed in the classic Belgian monastery style and offers sweet notes from dark Belgian candi sugar; watch for hints of plum and pear. 6.9% ABV.

And let’s not forget that our most awarded beer, Russian Imperial Stout, is available in Bottled Reserves (and in limited runs on tap). Pop into your local Iron Hill to grab this full-bodied stout packed with malty sweetness and big roasty character perfectly balanced by citrusy American hops (9.5% ABV). Look for other mahogany to dark beers in Bottled Reserves like Abbey Dubbel, Saison, Wee Heavy, Bedotter, The Cannibal and F.Red. Go to the Fresh Beer link on our website and click on Bottled Reserves.

To the occasional nay-sayer, Brian suggests that those who are leery of trying a dark beer would do well to remember that if they drink coffee, it’s a short leap to dark beer because of the many shared characteristics—most notably earthiness, roastiness and hints of chocolate.

“Dark beers also make for great pairings,” he noted. “They go well with hearty foods like red meats and, of course, with desserts featuring chocolate. Those are must-try pairings!”

Ready to sample? Check the Fresh Beer link on our website, and peruse the On Tap links for all of our restaurants. You’ll always be able to sip house beer Pig Iron Porter at your favorite Iron Hill, but maybe it’s time to branch out and try a different Iron Hill—and a different dark beer offering.

“Another great way to try a selection of beers is at our fresh events,” Brian said. “You’ll find brunches, happy hours and weekend events—keep an eye on our website! My favorites? The Dark Side and Night of the Czar. Hope to see you there!”

With 11 locations—and number 12 on the way—in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

 

06/29/2016  |  Why IPAs Are Still King of the Hill

Category: Uncategorized  |  Posted by: thetowndish  |  Add Comment

You know you love it: the nose full of grapefruit and pine you get as your lips approach the glass, backed up by bracing sips of the same kissed with hints of melon, passionfruit, earthiness, tangerine, pineapple … we could go on. And we will, about the inimitable IPA.

“I’ve been a brewer for 20 years, and the first 10 I saw a lot of brewing of styles from other countries,” said Voorhees Senior Head Brewer Brian Finn. “Now, those countries are brewing American IPAs—it’s the hottest style in the world. It really legitimizes what we’ve been doing in the American craft beer industry.”

Brian explains that American hops are the most pungent, aromatic hops in the world, hops that helped make bitterness a good thing. He’s had his share of IPAs—taste-testing is work, after all—and admits he’s quaffed some that were over the top. Still, he and fellow Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant brewers strive for balanced IPAs that bring the pucker but are rich with the fresh, clean citrus-pine-florals-fruits that customers love.

“The great ones are about the flavor, not just blowing you away with hoppiness,” Brian adds. “The big trend now: fruited IPAs. Wilmington will be releasing one infused with grapefruit in late summer; keep an eye out at our other locations as we experiment. You could see mango, tangerine, orange and pineapple make their way into our refreshing IPAs.”

Our stalwart house offering is Ore House IPA: a golden with a balanced hop bitterness and wonderful citrus and pine aroma and flavor. But do peruse the beer list at your favorite Iron Hill as we’re always riffing on this classic. Our brewers love to showcase different hop styles and what good ol’ American ingenuity can create.

And let’s not forget our friend malted barley, who stars alongside many impressive IPAs, like the most popular IPA seasonal at Wilmington, Riverfront IPA. It’s highly hopped, but the sweet malt flavor balances it nicely—even though we use an abundance of American variety hops and dry hop it for extra citrusy hop aroma.

Convinced you’re not into hops? We’re talking to you now. We urge you to sip on a lighter-style session IPA; they’re a great entry point when you’re experimenting. We also suggest pairing with food to really see how an IPA can shine. Match our hoppy beers with spicy dishes, cheese boards, rich pork, game and other dishes that can stand up to the beer cutting through to balance strong flavors and provide a satisfying finish.

“Try our chicken wings with the classic buffalo sauce and any of our IPAs for a great idea of how beer and food can really work together—especially if you’re testing out IPAs,” Brian suggested. “If you really want to put it to the test, do a flight and see how the subtle nuances of varied hops bring out different flavors in food.”

If you took a peek in Brian’s growler, you’d find the Crusher, a session beer that’s the brainchild of Ardmore Senior Head Brewer Paul Rutherford and his team. It boasts a blend of Cascade, Amarillo and Nelson hops that bring notes of grapefruit, peach and ripe pineapple. (You can nab Crusher in cans, too!) His go-to pairing? Yup, Iron Hill’s buffalo wings.

Brian has a serious passion for IPAs, and not just because virtually no two are alike thanks to almost unlimited ways to marry hops, more hops and sometimes malts. “American hops are prized the world ‘round—and IPAs are our beer, a true American beer that’s come up by the hard work of American craft brewers. We’ve taken it and made it our own. That makes me incredibly proud to be an American craft brewer.”

Come taste why our IPAs are king of the hill. And, while you’re at it, make sure you’re an Iron Hill King of the Hill Rewards Club member! We’ll make sure you feel like royalty as you earn rewards and enjoy member-only events and other exclusive perks. Earn points at sign-up and renewal and for visiting Iron Hill (and a bonus for visiting five or more times in a month) for each dollar spent on food. It’s good to be the King of the Hill!

With 11 locations—and number 12 on the way—in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

06/21/2016  |  Brewers Reflect on the World Beer Cup

Category: Uncategorized  |  Posted by: sophiad  |  2 Comments

Last month, brewers and industry professionals from all across the globe filed into a banquet hall at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to see if their beer would be named one of the best in the world. The competition, known as the World Beer Cup, recognizes brewing excellence in over 90 style categories, and this year it all went down right here in Philadelphia.

From the UK to Australia, 6,596 beers from 1,907 breweries spanning 55 countries were judged based on style guidelines set forth by the Brewers Association, and on this night the gold, silver and bronze winners from each category would be announced. For Iron Hill co-founder and Director of Brewery Operations, Mark Edelson, the night is met with both excitement and nervousness.

“We have been in the World Beer Cup since 2000. We actually didn’t win anything that year, but have won in the World Beer Cup ever since. I would say that the awards ceremony is more nerve-racking now than in the early years—there is a lot more expectation placed on us as always winning. Back then, there were no expectations.”

Based on the look of most everyone in attendance, it was clear that Mark was not the only one feeling a bit anxious. Some paced, some fidgeted in their seats and some sat with remarkable stillness—eyes fixated on the stage they hoped to walk across at some point in the next two hours. For us, that sought after moment would come not only once, but a total of five times over the course of the night.

Starting things off on a good note, our first medal of the evening would be awarded during the 11th category, Coffee Beer. Overload Stout, an Imperial Stout aged on rich chocolate nibs and locally roasted coffee, received a silver medal and brought then West Chester Lead Brewer (now Lead Brewer of North Wales) Chris Endrikat to the stage accompanied by Sr. Head Brewer, Paul Rutherford.

“It was an incredible feeling. Making it more special was the fact that I got to go up on stage with my boss and mentor, Paul Rutherford. Overload Stout is Paul’s recipe, and was brewed by myself and Assistant Brewer Nadine Banks. I really enjoy the camaraderie and teamwork that is so integral to the brewery industry. This beer was no exception to that.”

Photo © Jason E. Kaplan

 

The next win of the night came for Iron Hill Media’s Andrew Johnston, who would go on to receive a total of three medals throughout the course of the evening, two being for Russians—a category in which we have a history of placing.

“I was nervous about those two beers, Russian Imperial Stout and Solzhenitsyn (Aged Russian), because they were coming from the store that has repeatedly won medals with these beers at both Great American Beer Fest and World Beer Cup. I just kept thinking, ‘How am I going to look if I don’t win medals for Russian? Higher Powers that be, if I can only win two medals this year let them be for the Russians.’”

In addition to the Russians, Andrew and Regional Brewer Kevin Walter would make a third walk across the stage for Valentinus IPA, which received silver in the Double Red Ale category.

“That first and second medal I was excited—those were the Russians. The Higher Powers let me have those wins and a great weight was off my shoulders. That third medal was killer! I was blown away. In the end I was excited to have another recipe that I had designed win a medal (Black IPA winning bronze at the 2012 Great American Beer Fest was the first). Don’t get me wrong, the two Russian medals were great, but I was overly excited about the Valentinus IPA.”

Photo © Jason E. Kaplan

 

With the night already going so well, spirits were high and smiles slowly began to replace previously tense expressions. What had earlier been a quiet corner of the room where the Iron Hill team patiently waited to hear their name announced was now buzzing with excitement and congratulations. However, for Voorhees Lead Brewer Justin Rodgers, whose Belgian-Style Tripel category was still to come, relaxing was not yet an option.

“I was nervous! This was the first time I had not only one, but two beers entered into any major competition.  I kept thinking, ‘This is a tough category, I’m going up against the monks who have been brewing and perfecting this style for hundreds of years.’ I was just honored to be considered in the same class as them no matter the outcome.”

For Justin, the outcome would end up being a gold medal for Bedotter, a traditional Belgian-style golden ale with complex aroma and notes of plum, spice and banana with refreshing balanced bitterness. The win—which many brewers only dream of, much less achieve, during their first entry into such a competition—came as a shock to the brewer who began as an assistant only 2 years prior.

“After the third and second place winners were announced I was thinking, ‘Well, at least I made it into the competition by winning the Iron Hill panel.’ Then there was a long pause…… ‘The gold medal winner is Bedotter from Iron Hill Brewery,’ and I froze. I thought, ‘No way they just said that. Am I dreaming? GOLD?!’ Meanwhile all of my coworkers around me were screaming, cheering and congratulating me. I was still in shock the whole time walking up to the podium to receive the award. I was saying to Brian Finn (Sr. Head Brewer) ‘I really can’t believe that just happened—best in the world?!’ It was such a surreal moment and I am so thankful for my Iron Hill family who have always been there for support, comfort and sharing knowledge. That is what makes Iron Hill so great!”

Photo © Jason E. Kaplan

For Mark Edelson, winning gold in this particular category was especially validating.

“Winning in the World Beer Cup is meaningful because we are the best in the WORLD. When we go into competition with foreign brewers, we are competing with breweries who have been brewing these styles for generations. So Bedotter winning a GOLD medal for the Belgian-Style Tripel gives us an extra sense of pride that we were chosen over the people that invented the style.”

When all was said and done, we took home five medals to add to the 25 we have won at the World Beer Cup since 2000. As Mark sees it, “Consistently winning year after year validates that we make great beer day in and day out and it was not some fluke.” This sentiment was echoed by Chris Endrikat.

“I think winning medals (whether at WBC or GABF) is a validation that you are doing things the correct way, though there are a lot of brewers and breweries making amazing beer that did not win medals. However, I think the frequency of medals won speaks volumes to the commitment to quality that Iron Hill has. It’s also always cool to see your friends win, whether they be Iron Hill brewers (Andrew Johnston and Justin Rodgers this year) or brewers from other companies.”

So what’s next for Iron Hill and our award-winning beer? Well this Friday, June 24th, you can taste the gold medal Bedotter for yourself and meet the brewer, Justin Rodgers, at our Voorhees location. The release will go from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. but our loyal King of the Hill members can order a pint starting at 5:00. Bedotter will also be available in cans starting August 2nd at all Iron Hill locations, so mark your calendars to stop by and grab one!

 

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Sophia DiPersio
Photos © Jason E. Kaplan

 

 

06/14/2016  |  Why Summer Is the Perfect Time for Growlers

Category: Uncategorized  |  Posted by: thetowndish  |  Add Comment

Let’s face it—we see growlers going out the door all year long. But there’s something about summertime that just screams for an ice cold Iron Hill beer. Thankfully, our growlers are the perfect way to get your refreshment on no matter where summer fun takes you.

We tapped Chestnut Hill Sr. Head Brewer Chris LaPierre for the full growler 411 as he’s no stranger to transporting fresh Iron Hill beer hither and yon. He bicycles 13½ miles to and from work and even crafted his own special growler cage for his bike. Our friends at Philly Beer Scene recently shared the full story.

“Summer’s a great time to grab a growler because growlers hold beer! All kidding aside,” Chris continued, “beer is the perfect libation for summer. It’s low ABV so you’re less likely to get dehydrated than with other adult beverages. Plus, bitterness and carbonation can be very refreshing. If you’re into sours, there’s nothing more thirst-quenching.”

Chris obviously pops open a growler after he bikes, but he also totes growlers to softball games and outdoor movies and reminds us they’re just-right for “good old stoop sittin’!” Let’s not forget trips to the beach or your favorite lake, picnics, sports tailgates, BBQs … really the list is endless because our warm-weather beers are a great go-to with summer-inspired fare.

“My favorite Iron Hill growler fills right now are German-style pilsners like our Das Boot, Kölsch or anything with wheat in it,” Chris shares. “Back to the sour beers, there’s probably no better thirst-quencher than Berliner Weisse.”

Iron Hill growlers come in two convenient sizes: a standard growler at 64 glorious ounces and a baby or half-growler weighing in at 32 oz. Prices vary based on the beer you select, and pretty much any beer (other than those on nitro) is growler-ready.

Ready for Chris’ insider pro tip? “Grab two baby growlers instead of one standard size. You get to take home two styles, and two pints is a perfect serving so you don’t have to worry about it going flat.”

Filled growlers should be kept cold and transported with care. Unopened and stored carefully, a growler should last roughly two weeks. Once opened, it should be consumed within a day or two (and two days is pushing it) … but what are the odds an open growler brimming with cold Iron Hill beer won’t be used up with haste?

We’ve also got you covered if you’re looking for something to nosh alongside that growler. Try our two pizzas plus one growler deal for just $25. Yup, every day until 10 p.m. you can take out two freshly made hearth-baked pizzas and one growler of house beer for just 25 bucks. Eyeing a seasonal or Belgian beer? There’s a small extra charge for those (it’s worth it!).

We’ve got even more tips to share—you don’t want to miss ‘em. Then, come see our friendly bartenders and grab a growler today!

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

 

06/02/2016  |  A Look at the 2016 Iron Hill Hourly Culinary Competition

Category: Uncategorized  |  Posted by: helenm  |  Add Comment

First and foremost, I want to congratulate Ben Summers of our Phoenixville location on his win at the 2016 Iron Hill Hourly Culinary Competition.  I also want to mention the other two finalists, Jess Toth and Will Scioscia.  The judges all agreed that the decision was not a clear cut or easy one to make. All in all, we had nearly 50 participants this year with a strong showing from each of the 11 locations.

If you are unfamiliar with this competition, it starts at each location with an in-store round.  Any hourly employee is welcome to enter the competition by creating a unique dish from their own chosen ingredients, which is then presented anonymously to a panel of three judges.  The winners from each store then move on to compete against each other in a 2nd round.  The 2nd round is broken up into three regional competitions that result in the three finalists I mentioned above.

I was not sure what to expect when I started out this year as the lead on this event, but if you’ve ever wondered why we are the company we are, or why we have the culture we have here at Iron Hill, this is a shining example.  The personal dedication and level of potential all of the participants showed throughout this competition was awe inspiring. I really cannot do every cook involved, or their dishes, any justice without describing some for you.

The three finalists’ dishes were:

Ben Summers (Phoenixville) – Cinnamon Toast Crusted Mahi-Mahi
coconut rice, sesame green beans and Sriracha gastrique

Will Scioscia (Lancaster) – Spicy Blood Orange Glazed Salmon
forbidden rice, arugula and candied orange peel

Jess Toth (Media) – Beer Battered Andouille Stuffed Calamari
applewood smoked bacon, pineapple rice and red bean puree

I hope these dishes serve to show you that the others that did not advance were not up against a stack of pancakes or lukewarm bag of mac and cheese.  All of the dishes were very impressive, with a lot of thought and careful execution put into them.  It is impossible to deny after seeing all of this firsthand the bright future our people have in this industry, and hopefully with this company.   It is squarely on us to make sure that while we work hard every day to use the best products to produce the best dishes, we never forget to take the best people and use them to make the best teams.  Given the will and the opportunity, we can make great things.  The talent is not hard to find.  We have it all around us.

 

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Jason Millar.

 

05/18/2016  |  The Inside Scoop on Canned Beer

Category: Uncategorized  |  Posted by: thetowndish  |  Add Comment

You see them taking over the shelves at your favorite bottle shop—four- and six-packs with cans (not glass!) peeking up past the cardboard carrier. In fact, sometimes nearly half the offerings you spy are in cans. What gives?

At Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, we’re also canning, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Ardmore senior head brewer Paul Rutherford says that while the upswing in cans has come on everyone’s radar recently, this “trend” started nearly 15 years ago.

“Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado started canning Dale’s Pale Ale back in 2002—and it was revolutionary,” he explained. “Sly Fox Brewing Company piloted it here, and we’re happy to be part of the craft beer movement into cans for select Iron Hill beers.”

Canned beer is cool—let us count the ways:

  • They’re more portable because they’re lighter than bottles. That means you can carry more home and stack more tightly into your fridge.
  • Cans were made for outdoor enthusiasts! They don’t break, so they’re perfect by the pool, on the boat, in your backpack, as part of a sweet tailgating spread and so much more.

“We can in small batches right now,” Paul added. “We’re looking to always have a canned option for our guests. We’ve released cans of Bedotter, Pumpkin Ale, Rudolph’s Revenge, our famed Russian Imperial Stout and Mahalo Apollo!, too. You’ll also see the Crusher released in cans—who knows what’s next?”

Want to be in-the-know? Stop by your favorite Iron Hill and see what’s available in cans and in our exclusive cork-finished, 750 ml Bottled Reserves. And remember, a growler is a great way to grab your favorite on-tap Iron Hill beer. You can only purchase our beer-to-go at one of our restaurants, so visit soon (and, often!).

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

05/11/2016  |  6 Reasons to Party with Iron Hill at the Craft Brewers’ Festival

Category: Uncategorized  |  Posted by: thetowndish  |  Add Comment

As if the chance to try 15 of our beers isn’t reason enough to hit the Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers’ Festival, how about the chance to sip offerings from 20 (or, more!) local breweries?

We’re pretty sure we had you at 20+ breweries, but check this out: the event benefits the Media Youth Center (MYC), which offers a wide array of recreational and educational programs for youth in addition to partnership opportunities with the community. MYC provides a safe environment for youth to expand their minds, grow their bodies and have fun.

It all unfolds Saturday, May 14, from 1–5 p.m. at Iron Hill Media. The parking lot and street around 30 E. State Street will be packed with not only brewers but also live music and great pay-as-you-go food. Tickets are just $45 for this sure to sell out event.

“This is the second year I’ve been the main guy for this event, and I couldn’t be more excited,” said Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant Media head brewer Andrew Johnston. “The best part is hanging out with our customers and other local brewers. We especially like welcoming back brewers who used to work with us at Iron Hill—it’s great to see those guys!”

Andrew is also quick to give props to Iron Hill’s King of the Hill (KOTH) members—he knows they’ll come to the Festival in droves. These are our dedicated, die-hard customers, and we’ll have something special for them (more on that later).

Still deciding whether to attend? Here are the top reasons to party with us on May 14. See you there!

1. Sample our beers, from easy-drinking pilsners to crazy sours:

  • Iron Hill Main Tent: Ginger Plum Saison, Mahalo, Apollo!, Hefeweizen, Flipadelphia IPA, Chewie IPA , Aloha IPA, Pig Iron Porter and German Pilsner
  • Behind the Iron Hill Main Tent: Wee Funky, Oak-Aged Belgian Quad and Hoppopotamus

2. Look for the big guns to come out from our fellow brewers.

They’re stoked to pour beers you normally can’t get your hands on, like bottle-only and seasonal favorites.

3. Designated driver tickets are just $5.

Plus, these safeguarders of safety get a free food voucher!

4. Get in on the Methuselah pours at 2:30 and 4 p.m.

At those times, Andrew will hoist a huge bottle to the stage and dole out Framboise and The Polar Bear. Framboise is an unfiltered, Belgian-style lambic made with wild yeast and bacteria and aged in oak barrels for two years with fresh raspberries for ruby red color and raspberry aroma. The fruit balances an intense sourness. The Polar Bear is a full-bodied golden imperial stout with cocoa and coffee beans imparting roastiness sans dark malt, while flaked oats and lactose sugar provide an enveloping mouthfeel.

5. Tasty KOTH perks.

Not a member? Join before or at the event and snag these exclusive benefits:

  • A free food voucher.
  • KOTH tent with rarities and special beers chosen just for you: Bourbon Russian Imperial Stout, Raspberry Torte, Bedotter and 1.084 Rye Imperial Red.
  • Secret beers our brewers will bust out that day in honor of you, our KOTH members.

6. Did we mention you’ll be drinking for a good cause?

Here are 23 more reasons (and counting!) to join in the fun:

Confirmed participating breweries include—but aren’t limited to—2SP Brewing, Lancaster Brewing Company, Neshaminy Creek Brewing, Pinocchio’s Beer Garden To Go, Saint Benjamin Brewing Company, Ship Bottom Brewery, Sterling Pig Brewery, Stewart’s Brewing Company, Troegs Independent Brewing, River Horse Brewing Company, Round Guys Brewing Company, Boxcar Brewing, Twin Lakes Brewing Company, Flying Fish Brewing, Yards Brewing Company, Big Oyster Brewing, Conshohocken Brewing Company, Weyerbacher Brewing Company, Stoudts Brewing Company, McKenzie Brew House, Victory Brewing Company, Denizens Brewing Company and Manayunk Brewing Company.

Bonus pro tip: Experienced Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers’ Festival attendees rock the “pretzel necklace.” Yes, we said pretzel necklace! You’ll definitely want to frequent our food vendors, but nibbling on your own pretzels as you taste is a great way to make sure you keep ample food in your belly. It’s simple: one bag of pretzels + a string = pretzel necklace.

You thirsty yet? We’ll help you quench that thirst on May 14. Cheers until then!

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

Photos by Brian Penn Photography.

 

05/03/2016  |  The Road to World Beer Cup

Category: Uncategorized  |  Posted by: helenm  |  Add Comment

Each year, the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) travels to different cities to set up shop and provide a collaborative environment filled with the latest in brewing education, products and services. The CBC is a unique networking event attended by over 10,000 craft brewing industry professionals and this year we’re proud to boast that it’s right here on our home turf—Philadelphia, PA.

In addition to being held locally, this year’s CBC is also especially exciting due to its coinciding with the World Beer Cup, a bi-annual global competition that recognizes brewing excellence in over 90 style categories. Since it began in 1996—the same year our first location opened—Iron Hill has won 25 awards.

This and every year, we put our brewers and their beers through an extensive tasting and elimination process. Each location submits samples of various styles of beer to be judged based upon the beer style guidelines provided by the Brewers Association. The tasting panel—made up of brewers from all Iron Hill locations—then evaluates almost 100 samples from a mixture of house and seasonal beers.

The brewers convene in the conference room at Iron Hill headquarters and are presented with 13 rounds containing 4 to 10 samples each, every round defined by a style category—Russians, Belgians, Sours and so on. The samples are kept anonymous so that no one is aware which beers came from which brewer or location. During each round, all participants are presented with 2-3 ounces of any beer that has been entered for that style. The brewers are also provided with water, buckets for disposing excess, matzah to cleanse the palate, and a pen and paper for notes.

The brewers examine and sip each beer and consider things like color, clarity, aroma, mouthfeel and of course, taste. During this time, concentration levels are high and noise levels are low—the silence only broken by someone’s occasional choke on the dry, crumbly matzah. Once everyone has gone through each entry, the conversation begins. Brewers give their notes about each beer, voicing critiques such as, “This one has a good nose but it’s flat on the finish,” “I like this one but there’s better beers on the table,” or simply, “Meh.” Once everyone talks it out and agrees that a beer will not advance, it is dumped into the buckets. If more than one beer remains on the table once all have been discussed, the brewers will then taste and examine the samples again before taking a final vote to decide which will be sent to WBC.

The process lasts the entire afternoon and the brewers end up sampling close to 100 beers. To maintain their palate and to limit consumption, each person is asked to sit out from at least three tastings, with reasons varying from someone just not liking a certain style of beer and thus not feeling as though they can accurately judge, or because after sampling so many beers, it’s sometimes best to pass on a high ABV round.

It’s a pretty amazing thing to witness, and during certain rounds the intensity is especially palpable. During an Abbey Dubbel tasting, the brewers are presented with their samples and everyone starts sipping and scribbling away. As they make their way through this particular line-up, a few eyes start to look up and dart around the room to one another. It’s extremely quiet but you can see the anxious excitement on a few of their faces. Finally, someone speaks out and states, “They’re all really, really good…” Everyone nods and mumbles in agreement, and while they’re all proud, they realize this means a difficult choice lies ahead. Someone clears their throat and responds—through smiling, gritted teeth—“Yeah, this is going to be a really tough one.”

Listening to everyone’s notes about each entry really highlights how much our brewers truly know about beer, and the debates back and forth about which should advance shows how passionate they are about what they do. In the end, 16 lucky beers were chosen from the panel as entries into the World Beer Cup. Judging will begin on Sunday, May 1st, and winners will be announced during the May 6th award ceremony at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. In addition to the competition, Iron Hill will also be participating in several other Craft Beer Conference events. We’ll be pouring beer during the Opening Reception on May 3rd and at the trade show throughout the week, that same night we will be part of the Brotherly Suds event taking place at Johnny Brenda’s, and on May 5th Iron Hill will host a tap takeover at The Industry Bar in South Philadelphia starting at 8:00 p.m.

 

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Sophia DiPersio.